Objective: This study was designed to conduct a randomized controlled trial of motivational enhancement therapy (MET) with two control conditions: nondirective reflective listening (NDRL) and no further counseling (NFC); and to conduct this study in a sample of patients with a primary diagnosis of mild to moderate alcohol dependence, in a "real-life" clinical setting.
Method: Patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence were recruited, assessed and treated at the Community Alcohol and Drug Service of Christchurch, New Zealand. All patients received a feedback/education session before randomization to either four sessions of MET, four sessions of NDRL, or NFC. Outcome data on 122 subjects (57.4% men) were obtained 6 months following the end of treatment, by an interviewer who was blind to the treatment condition. The primary drinking outcome was unequivocal heavy drinking, defined as drinking 10 or more standard drinks six or more times in the follow-up period. Global assessment scale (GAS) measured general personal/social functioning.
Results: Of patients treated with MET, 42.9% showed unequivocal heavy drinking compared with 62.5% of the NDRL and 65.0% of the NFC groups (p = .04). No significant differences were found for GAS score according to treatment condition.
Conclusions: In patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence, MET is more effective for reducing unequivocal heavy drinking than either a feedback/education session alone or four sessions of NDRL. MET can be considered an effective "value added" counseling intervention in a real-life clinical setting. In patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence, nondirective reflective listening provides no additional advantage over a feedback/education session alone.